MWHC Introduces Innovative Y-90 Liver Cancer Treatment
Providing New Hope to Patients with Colon Cancer that Has Spread to the Liver
Mary Washington Healthcare brings an innovative Y-90 Liver Cancer treatment
If you or a loved one has colorectal cancer that has spread (metastasized)
to the liver, it is important to learn the facts and evaluate treatment
options. A diagnosis of colorectal liver metastases can be overwhelming,
but there is hope.
SIR-Spheres® Y-90 resin microspheres are used in targeted radiation therapy, also known
as selective internal radiation therapy (SIRT) that selectively delivers
a dose of internal radiation to liver tumors. Due to the liver tumor's
unique blood supply, millions of tiny spheres are delivered directly to
the tumors while sparing healthy liver tissue. The treatment requires
a small incision in the groin and is administered via a very small flexible
tube (microcatheter) into the liver. Your doctor may refer to this as
an “outpatient procedure”.
Treatment Goals & Patient Benefits:
- Extend life
- Increase the time until other treatments are needed
- Shrink tumor size and in some cases allow for removal of tumor
- Improve quality of life
- Give fewer side effects
- Provide symptom relief by surgery
- Slow tumor growth
SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres are the only fully FDA approved microsphere
radiation therapy in the United States for the treatment of colorectal
cancer that has spread to the liver.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What are SIR-Spheres® Y-90 resin microspheres?
SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres are microscopic resin beads that contain
the radioactive isotope Yttrium-90 (Y-90) and emit radiation to kill cancer
cells. Due to their small size (1/3 the width of a human hair) and similar
density to blood cells, the microspheres travel easily with the bloodstream
directly to the liver tumors. The microspheres become lodged inside the
tumor and kill the cancer cells through radiation. Selective Internal
Radiation Therapy (SIRT) with SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres is considered
a well-tolerated and effective method of using radiation to treat colorectal
cancer that has spread to the liver and is often used in conjunction with
chemotherapy. SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres are manufactured by
Sirtex Medical Limited which is headquartered in Australia and has U.S.
operations in Woburn, Massachusetts.
What do SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres treat?
SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres are approved to treat colon and rectal
cancer which has spread to the liver. In the United States, colorectal
cancer is the second leading cause of death by cancer. The liver is the
most common site for the spread of this cancer.
Can you describe the SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres procedure?
The SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres treatment is performed as an outpatient
procedure by specially trained physicians called interventional radiologists.
Using the liver's unique blood supply, millions of tiny resin microspheres
loaded with Yttrium-90 (Y-90) are released into the liver blood circulation.
The radioactive microspheres lodge in the blood supply of the tumor, where
they emit radiation for about two weeks.
The treatment normally takes about 60 to 90 minutes, with most patients
returning home four to six hours later. Patients are carefully monitored
throughout and after the procedure. The most commonly reported side effects
are flu-like symptoms over one to three weeks. The procedure can be performed
in combination with chemotherapy or by itself.
How effective is the treatment?
Clinical studies have shown that SIRT with SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres
increases the length of time that the cancer is stable and not growing
without adversely affecting the patient's quality of life.1,2,3 In clinical studies, the SIRT procedure has been combined with chemotherapy,
given as a single procedure during a chemotherapy holiday or after chemotherapy
options have failed.
Who is eligible for treatment with SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres?
SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres are the only fully FDA PMA-approved
Y-90 microspheres for colorectal cancer that has spread to the liver.4 The treatment offers hope for patients who have one or more colorectal
liver tumors which cannot be treated by surgical resection or ablation.
Where is the procedure performed?
The procedure is performed at a hospital or clinic on an outpatient basis
by highly trained physicians called interventional radiologists.
How are SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres delivered?
During the procedure, the interventional radiologist threads a tiny catheter
through the large artery in the leg. Then the catheter is advanced into
the hepatic artery, which supplies the liver tumors with blood. Once the
catheter is in position, millions of microspheres are delivered directly
to the tumor site. The SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres become lodged
in the tumor bed and emit radiation to the tumors, while the surrounding
healthy liver tissue remains unaffected.
How are SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres different from other treatments?
Radiation is an effective therapy which is often used to treat cancer.
However, normal liver cells are very sensitive to radiation. The targeted
nature of SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres therapy enables doctors
to deliver up to 40 times more radiation to the liver tumors than would
be possible using normal external beam radiotherapy, while sparing the
surrounding healthy liver tissue from damage.
How common is this procedure?
SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres are currently being offered at more
than 1,160 sites around the world, including more than 300 centers in
the U.S. Over 86,000 doses of SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres have
been supplied worldwide.
Other than treating the cancer, what are the benefits to the patients?
Besides offering patients an effective treatment option to control the
spread of the cancer in their liver, therapy with SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin
microspheres also help patients maintain a good quality of life. The procedure
is performed as an outpatient service which minimizes the time spent at
the hospital and results in relatively minimal side effects.
What are the likely side effects?
Almost all treatments and drugs produce unwanted side effects. Most side
effects following a SIRT procedure are minor, but a small number can be
serious. Many patients experience abdominal pain or tightness in their
abdomen, nausea and loss of appetite which normally subsides within a
week. Patients may also develop a mild fever that may last for up to a
week and fatigue which may last for several weeks.
What are the potential complications?
In rare instances, a small number of microspheres may inadvertently reach
other organs in the body, such as the gallbladder, stomach, intestine,
or pancreas. If microspheres reach these organs, they can cause inflammation
or ulceration. These complications are rare, but if they do occur they
will require additional medical treatment.
Do patients have to take special precautions?
There are some simple precautions that patients need to take during the
first 24 hours following the SIRT procedure. These precautions include:
thorough hand washing after using the toilet, and cleaning up any spills
of body fluids such as blood, urine or stools and disposing of them in
the toilet. Otherwise, patients can resume normal contact with family members.
Patients must not receive SIRT treatment if they are pregnant, and must
not become pregnant within two months of receiving the treatment as this
may cause harm to the unborn baby.
Does insurance cover the procedure?
Most insurance companies generally cover the cost of SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin
microspheres for the treatment of colorectal cancer which has spread to
the liver. Under the terms of the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement
and Modernization Act (MMA) of 2003, Medicare, for the most part, reimburses
hospitals for the cost of outpatient treatment with SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin
microspheres. Many private payers have recognized the safety and efficacy
of the SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres procedure and have issued positive
coverage policies for treatment.
1. Hendlisz A et al. J Clin Oncol. 2010;28:3687-3694.
2. Gray B et al. Ann Oncol. 2001;12:1711-1720.
3. Seidensticker R et al, Cardiovascular Interventional Radiology, 2011
July 29; Epub.
4. SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres are indicated for the treatment
of unresectable metastatic liver tumors from primary colorectal cancer
with adjuvant intra-hepatic artery chemotherapy (IHAC) of FUDR (Floxuridine).
Source: Sirtex is a global life-sciences company that develops and delivers
effective oncology treatments using novel small particle technology.
We are here to help
For more information or to talk with a Cancer Nurse Navigator, please call
Our Cancer Nurse Navigators can help with:
- Answering questions and providing educational materials on cancer and specific
types of cancer
- Explaining your diagnosis and treatment, every step of the way
- Emotional support, including one-on-one time, and recommendations for counseling services
- Expedited scheduling and coordinating of diagnostic test and physician
- Coordination on your plan of care between your primary care and oncology
- Access to clinical trials
- Recommendations on resources for nutrition, rehabilitation, transportation,
support groups, financial assistance, and spiritual and emotional guidance
- Making important connections with community support services and resources
- Survivorship support
For more information, or to talk with a Cancer Nurse Navigator, please